Best vinyl cutter under $300

It’s utterly confusing nowadays to choose the right vinyl cutting machine for the right price.

You just want to purchase the right device for your use case but at a reasonable cost.

Although you can find many vinyl cutters under $300, you are left wondering which ones are the best, and which ones provide this or that feature.

This is where this review can help you solve this problem. Here, we will take a look at the best vinyl cutter under the $300 price, according to my own experience.

We will explore together what these devices have to offer as their main features. And while we’re at it, we will also highlight their strengths and also their weakness. Hope you will enjoy what i have to propose, and let’s get started!

Best vinyl cutter under $300: summary

Before we start, let’s take a quick look at all the machines we will review in this article:

Vinyl cutting machineDimensionsCutting areaWeightProduct page
Silhouette Cameo 3

22.5"x 8.5"x6"

12 inches cutting mat (exact cutting area not provided)

6 pounds

Click here
Cricut explore 1
24 x 9.5"x9.5"11.5" x 23.5"13.75 poundsClick here
Silhouette Cameo 2
11"x11"x24"12" x 12" cutting mat (exact cutting area not provided)Around 10 poundsClick here
Cricut explore air 1

25.4"x 10"x9.2"

11.5" x 23.5"

13.8 pounds

Click here
Cricut explore air 2


24"x9.5" x9.5"


11.5" x 23.5"


16 pounds


Click here
Sizzix eclips2

26"x6.5" x7"

12" x 12"

Around 18 pounds

Click here
Silhouette Portrait 2

18"x8" x9"

A cutting area with a mat of 8 x 12 inches

3.53 pounds

Click here
Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350


10.1"x22.8" x10.6"


11.7" x 11.7"


10.36 pounds


Click here

Cricut explore 1

If you are in a hurry, here are the specifications of the Cricut explore air one:

  • Up to 11.5 x 23.5 inches cutting area
  • Cutting or writing on more than 100 materials
  • Preset materials configuration
  • Automatic calibration of the machine using the preset materials configuration
  • Offers a free version of Cricut Design Space
  • No native wireless connection
  • Dimensions: 24″ x 9.5″ x 9.5″

Want more? Keep reading then!

The Cricut explore 1 is obviously the vinyl cutting machine to opt for if you’re looking for the easiest funniest and most of all practical device to own for cutting and also drawing.

It offers compatibility with your phone, thus allowing you to design cool projects even with it. Useless to say, the Cricut explore air 1 does support an interface for computers and tablet’s users.

On top of that, this machine provides a feature called “Smart Set dial”. What comes with this functionality? Well, it’s simple; The “Smart Set dial” will allow you to obtain precise cuts on almost any material imaginable.

What about the Cricut explore 1’s connectivity? It goes without saying that this device will permit you to establish USB connections, but what about the Bluetooth ones? Well, I got good news and bad news for you.

The bad news is that this machine does not support Bluetooth connection. The good news is that you can purchase an adapter for Bluetooth, thus allowing you to establish connections between your monitor, which can be a computer, tablet, or even a phone.

What’s more? This one is obviously a neat thing to have, but it’s offered with all the Cricut vinyl cutting machines:

When you buy the Cricut explore 1, air 1, or air 2 or even the Cricut maker, you will automatically have access to more than 60.000 projects and designs. This can be very useful to limit the time you spent on searching for ideas from scratch. With this, you can choose an already existing project, add to it your personal touch, and you should be all set!

Additionally, the Cricut explore one is equipped with a German carbide blade. what’s special about it? Well, this blade is really one of a kind. With it, you can cut extremely resilient materials such as magnet sheets or even leather! Besides, with it, you will have a guaranteed lasting blade that will certainly survive the test of time.

Also, this machine comes with a 12″ x 12″ cutting mat allowing to have a 11.5” x 11.5″ inches cutting area. A 12″ x 24″ inches mat though is available. With it, you can cut up to 11.5″ x 23.5″ objects.

Cricut explore one German Carbide blade

What about the Cricut explore one’s software? All the Cricut vinyl cutting machines will permit you to have access to the Cricut Design Space Software. It’s a web-based application, meaning that you will necessarily have to use an internet connection to access it.

However, what’s interesting about it is that it’s compatible with the three different platforms ( computer, smartphone, and tablet), and is cloud-based, which means that all your projects will be synchronized across your different devices.

Lastly, the Cricut explore one offers a standard-Grip cutting mat and a storage room for your extra accessories. With this machine, be certain that you will create extremely beautiful and successful designs, whether it’s a birthday card, wedding gifts, or even decorations, the only limit you will encounter is your own imagination.

Pros of the Cricut explore one

  • Easy to use
  • User-friendly
  • Precise cuts and drawings
  • Supports many materials
  • The possibility of the addition of new configurations for new materials
  • Great reference manual
  • Great adoption by the community

Cons of the Cricut explore one

  • Usable only with the Cricut design space
  • Some of the interesting designs are not free
  • Requires a Bluetooth adapter for Bluetooth connections
  • Cannot cut and write at the same time

>>>Check price<<<

Cricut explore air 1

If you are in hurry, here is a list of quick specifications of the Cricut explore air one:

  • Up to 11.5 x 23.5 inches cutting area
  • Cutting or writing on more than 100 materials
  • Preset materials configuration
  • Automatic calibration of the machine using the preset materials configuration
  • Offers a free version of Cricut Design Space
  • No native wireless connection
  • Double carriage: write and cut at the same time
  • Native Bluetooth support
  • Dimensions: 25.4″ x 10″ x 9.2″

If you went through the previous part, you will notice that they are similar to the Cricut Explore One.

The Cricut explore 1 was released shortly after the release of the Cricut explore air 1 as a cheaper alternative. Basically, it means that the Cricut explore air 1 offers more features than the explore 1. 

So what are the differences between the two machines? Well first, concerning the connectivity, unlike the Cricut explore 1, the Cricut explore air 1 does provide a Bluetooth connection. No need to buy an adapter to use this feature. Sweet!

Another difference that could be of a huge impact, mostly for regular users, is the presence of the Double carriage functionality. With this feature, you will be able to draw and cut your designs at the same time. Projects which are difficult and time-consuming can very well be achievable thanks to that.

So, in sum, the Cricut explore air 1 is just an improvement of the explore 1. It has all its features like the compatibility with smartphones and tablets, the Smart Set dial feature, the German carbide blade etc…

It functions with the same Cricut Design Space software but is slightly bigger than its younger sister (25.4″ x 10″ x 9.2″ compared to the 24″ x 9.5″ x 9.5″ dimensions of the explore 1).

However keep in mind that the explore air 1 is without any surprise more expensive, so taking into account these facts, I’m fairly certain that you will be able to decide which one is better suited for your use case.

Pros of the Cricut explore air 1

  • Easy to use
  • User-friendly
  • Precise cuts and drawings
  • Support many materials
  • The possibility of the addition of new configurations for new materials
  • Great reference manual
  • Great adoption by the community
  • The possibility of drawing and cutting at the same time
  • No need to use a USB cable

Cons of the Cricut explore air 1

  • Usable only with the Cricut design space
  • Cricut design space is limited and sometimes slow
  • Some of the interesting designs are not free
  • a bit expensive

>>>Check price<<<

Cricut explore air 2

Let’s close reviewing the explore family from Cricut with the Cricut explore air 2.

No time to read? Here are the most important features of the Cricut explore air 2:

  • Up to 11.5″ x 23.5″ cutting area
  • Cutting or writing on more than 100 materials
  • Preset materials configuration
  • Automatic calibration of the machine using the preset materials configuration
  • Offers a free version of Cricut Design Space
  • No native wireless connection
  • Double carriage: write and cut at the same time
  • Native Bluetooth support
  • Dimensions: 25.4″ * 10″ * 9.2″
  • Fast cuts mode

As you can tell just by reading its name, this one comes as an improvement compared to the older explore air 1.

Improvement? Well, it basically means that this vinyl cutting machine has all the features of its both older sisters (Cricut explore 1 and Cricut explore air 1), so I’ll avoid repeating my self by restating all of the previous features.

So what are the differences between the Cricut explore air 2 and the Cricut explore one?

Cricut explore one comes first with smaller dimensions (24″ x 9.5″ x 9.5″ compared to the 25.4″ x 10″ x 9.2″ dimensions of the Cricut explore air 1). If you prefer a smaller machine that you can displace, move and store more easily, then explore one is at a slight advantage.

But what about the main feature that gave birth to the Cricut explore air 2? It can be summarized in just two words: speed improvement. With this device, your cutting operations take half the time required for the previous Cricut explore air 1.

This is a huge thing to hope for in a vinyl cutting machine, especially if you are a regular daily user that cuts a huge number of objects. However, the downside of this feature is that the cutting process will make more noise, but it’s not a big deal if you ask me.

Pros of the Cricut explore air 2

  • All of the positive points from Cricut air explore 1
  • Faster to use
  • Available in more colors

Cons of the Cricut explore air 2

  • Can be used directly only with design space
  • As for the others, design space is not stable enough
  • Expensive

>>>Check price<<<

If you want to see a dedicated post for the Cricut explore family, click here!

Silhouette Cameo 2

Time to take a look at another constructor, don’t you think? What about seeing what Silhouette Cameo 2 has to offer? If you agree, then keep reading!

Busy enough? Here is a list of the most important features of the Silhouette Cameo 2:

  • Touch screen
  • USB connectivity to Windows and Mac
  • Silhouette studio is provided with it
  • 12″ x 12″ cutting mat
  • Mat-less cutting capability to cut materials up to 10 feet long
  • Built-in accessory storage
  • 1/32″ (0.8 mm) cutting clearance

So what’s is so special about this vinyl cutting machine that made me consider it in my review?

Well, for starters the Silhouette Cameo 2 is obviously a performant device. Why do I state that?

First, it supports a feature called “print and cut”. Basically, this feature will allow you to print designs on the material you have chosen, and then proceed with the cutting operation. It’s more like having a printer embedded to your vinyl cutter. Pretty practical.

What about its cutting capabilities? According to Silhouette, Cameo 2 is capable of performing on 100 different materials that have a maximum of 10 foot in length and 12 inches of width. However, keep in mind that this machine only has a cutting clearance of 1/32″ (0.8 mm).

What’s more interesting about this machine, is the fact that you can use USB drives with it. You can connect your storage device, and then cut the images stored in it. However, to be able to proceed with this operation, a computer must be connected to your Cameo 2 too.

What else to state? What about the crosscutter installed in the back of the machine? So what’s it? It’s simple to understand actually. The crosscutter is a sort of paper-cutter. It is useful to cut long pieces of media. It lets you separate the finished cut job from the remaining media in one quick move.

Just like all the vinyl cutting machines made by silhouette, Cameo 2 is monitored by an application called Silhouette Studio. It’s a well-appreciated software that can help you with your projects and designs.

Silhouette also offers a large set of designs that you can unfortunately only buy, but this can be very useful if you are looking to extend and evolve your creations.

The last thing to highlight about Cameo 2 is the feature called Pixscan.
Pixscan will allow you to digitize your images and adapt them in order to cut them with the Silhouette machine.

However, to use this capability, you need to place your material on Pixscan mat which is available at this link. Take a look at this video if you are keen to learn more about Pixscan:

Pros of Silhouette Cameo 2

  • Easy to use
  • Excellent user guide
  • The wide availability of resources
  • Available spare parts
  • 1-year warranty
  • Supports other vinyl cutting software
  • The print and cut capability
  • The Pixscan feature

Cons of silhouette Cameo 2

  • Cuts thin materials only
  • 1/32″ (0.8 mm) cutting clearance only
  • Average cutting force
  • Silhouette Studio’s free edition is really limited compared to other software

>>>Chek price<<<

Silhouette Cameo 3

Here is a list of the most important features the Cameo 3:

  • You can Use2 different tools simultaneously with the dual carriage
  • Auto-blade feature for automatic adjustment of the cutting blade
  • Additional storage compartments
  • A reworked roller locking mechanism
  • 12 inches cutting mat
  • Mat-less cutting capability to cut materials up to 10 feet long
  • Usb connection
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Provided with Silhouette studio
  • Cutting clearance up to 1/128″ (2mm)

As you can guess, Silhouette Cameo 3 is an improvement of the Cameo 2. It means that all the good features of Cameo 2 are still existing in it. So to avoid repeating my self, let’s see what are the noticeable main differences.

First things first, design and dimensions: Cameo 3 is way bigger than Cameo 2; that basically means that the cutting areas will be much larger.

There are also some modifications done to the touch screen of Cameo 3. Now it is possible to access some tutorials with the Cameo 3. Also, some audio alerts were added to prevent users from doing anything by mistake.

Another cool thing changed in the design, is the integration of a storage room in the Cameo 3. That means that losing your accessories in your workshop will certainly be a thing of the past.

What’s also interesting to note about the Cameo 3, is the addition of the new auto blade feature. With this functionality, before initiation any cutting operation, all you need to do is specify the material you are willing to cut, and the machine takes care of automatically calibrating itself accordingly.

As for the cutting capabilities, there is a huge improvement compared to the Cameo 2 machine. From now on, with Silhouette cameo 3, it’s possible to cut materials that have a maximum of 5/64″ (2mm) of thickness. But keep in mind that sometimes, you will have to use the “deep cut” blade to reach this limit.

Now for the best part: Cameo 3 provides the dual carriage feature. this functionality will allow you to use two accessories at the same time. It means that drawing and cutting at the same time is very much possible from now on.

Cameo 3 Dual carriage

Let’s close by talking about connectivity. Just its older sister, Cameo 3 is equipped with a USB port. With it, you can load what’s stored inside the machine into a USB drive and vice-versa.

But what’s new compared to Cameo 2 is the integration of the Bluetooth technology. Using a cable to connect your machine to a monitor is obviously an old school approach that has many limitations, and the wireless connection is without a doubt the best alternative to opt for.

Pros of Silhouette Cameo 3

Cameo 3 shares all the pros of its big sister. But it’s naturally concluded that this one is far better than the previous in all sides, except for the price:

  • Dual carriage functionality
  • The auto blade
  • Additional storage capacity
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Has its own software to get started quickly
  • Wide community and resources
  • 1-year warranty
  • Reworked user experience
  • Print and scan feature
  • The Pixscan feature

Cons of Silhouette Cameo 3

  • Still not powerful enough to cut thick materials
  • Silhouette Studio’s free edition is really limited compared to other software

>>>Check price<<<

For more information on the Silhouette Cameo die cutting devices, click here!

Silhouette portrait 2

Let’s close our selection of the Silhouette vinyl cutting machines with the Silhouette portrait 2. As usual, if you don’t have enough time to read all that I have to say about it, then just take a look at this short summary:

  • the Possibility of cutting and drawing
  • A cutting area with a mat of 8 x 12 inches
  • Cuts up to 12 feet long with lined media
  • designs creation from pictures with PixScan
  • Print then Cut feature
  • Portable machine: weights only 3.5lbs, measures 16.2″ x 5.5″ x 4.4 
  • 7.4 ounces (210 grams) of cutting force
  • Auto blade feature: no need to adjust the blade for the material
  • up to 5/64″ (2 mm) thickness materials cutting capabilities
  • Bluetooth support
  • he Pixscan feature
  • Free software included

So what are the differences that exist between the Silhouette Portrait 2 and the Cameo 3? Well, the first most interesting thing is its price range. Portrait 2 is way cheaper, so if you have a limited budget, this one can be very much the answer you’re looking for.

Besides that, Portrait 2 can be considered a portable version of die cutting machines, with its smaller size ( 16.2″ x 5.5″ x 4.4 vs 22.5″ x 6″ x 8.5″) and lighter weight (3.5 lbs vs 8 lbs), you will encounter no problem if you are looking to change its location.

Concerning its cutting capabilities, Portrait 2 has a cutting force equal to 7.4 ounces (210 grams), which is considered to be pretty average, but sufficient to cut almost all of the most-used materials.

But, as you can guess, since Cameo 3 is more expensive than Portrait 2, it will naturally have additional functionalities. We can mention for example the dual carriage, the touch screen, and the possibility of usage without a computer. each one of these features is absent from Portrait 2.

You can find also common points between the two machines, such as the deep cut blade, the Print & cut feature, Bluetooth connections (you need a specific adapter though), also the same usable software (Silhouette Studio), and finally the Pixscan feature.

Another feature that Portrait 2 shares with Cameo 3 is the auto blade function. With it, the machine can adjust the cutting depths automatically, as long as you provide the type of the material you are using.

If you are interested, you can check my review which is 100% dedicated to Silhouette Portrait 2.

Pros of Silhouette Portrait 2

  • A nice machine for the price
  • Compact and easy to move around
  • Deep cuts capabilities
  • Auto blade capability
  • The Pixscan feature

Cons of Silhouette portrait 2

  • Sticky Mat
  • Bluetooth supported but not automatically included (needs an adapter to workà
  • Pen holder not included

>>>Check price<<<

Sizzix eclips2

This one is definitely a different alternative to all the die cutting machines enlisted above. It may be a simple and modest one to consider, but you will be wrong to misjudge its efficiency.

Here is a of its most important functionalities:

  • Maximum cutting width of 0.5 mm (0.02 inches)
  • Simulate cuts outputs with Laster cut review
  • Cuts multiple materials
  • 12″ x 12″ cutting area
  • comes with eCAL lite software

So, what’s special about this machine? Well, the cool feature that really made me consider it, although it doesn’t support double carriage features, and it has limited cutting capabilities (maximum of 0.02″ or 0.5 mm in width) and it does not provide automatic blade’s adjustments; is the “laser cut” review feature.

So what about this functionality? In simple words, the laser cut review will allow you to take a sneak peek of the cut without actually cutting the material itself. With it, you will have the possibility to actually see the cutting path, and thus make last minutes adjustments if needed. Basically, what you see is what you get. It’s kinda cool, don’t you think?

Finally, this die cutting machine is powered by the “eCAL lite” software. If you buy this device, you will automatically have access to a limited “free to use” version which is very basic, best suited for novices and beginners.

If you want to use more advanced features, then I would recommend you to consider purchasing the “eCal” software. Click here if you want to purchase the upgraded version of the eCAL software.

Pros of the Sizzix eclips2

  • Precise cuttings
  • No cartridges required
  • Laser Cut Preview feature for last minutes adjustments
  • Adjustable blade depth
  • True Scoring: guaranteed clean folds every time, and no more perforations expected
  • Compatible with Mac, Windows, and Android
  • Relatively cheap machine

Cons of the Sizzix eclips2

  • No smart dial technology: You are responsible for setting the speed and the pressure of the cuttings, but there are some predefined settings
  • No automatic blade adjustment
  • The free eCal lite software version is very basic
  • Almost no connectivity: No Bluetooth, no Wifi, only USB connections

>>>Check price<<<

If you want to see all the features of the Sizzix eclips2 in detail, then take a look at this post!

Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350

Time to close our Best vinyl cutter under $300 review with a very technologically advanced machine.

Here are its main features:

  • Integrated scanner
  • Wireless connection
  • Can be used without a computer
  • 11.7″ x 11.7″ cutting area
  • CanvasWorkSpace support
  • Adjustable blades depending on materials

The Brother scan and cut 2 Cm 350 is definitely the one to go for if you are looking for a die cutting machine embedded with a scanner. Yes a scanner, you read it right my friend.

Why would I need a scanner you may say? The answer is quite simple. If you have an interesting design on a piece of paper or fabric that you want to reproduce, you will certainly have to scan it to use it no? You can opt for a separate scanner also to solve this problem, but where would be the fun in that? And why waste time to make the necessary adjustments while you can solve the problem with just a few clicks?

Another cool fact about the Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350 is that it doesn’t require to be connected to a computer to be used. You can scan and save your designs on a USB drive or memory card or just use them on the spot.

You can also connect your device online, but in order to do that, you will have to buy an activation card that costs a little bit of money.

What about the software used with this device? Well, there are actually two versions. A web-based one and a desktop one.

With these apps, you can create multitude of projects from scratch. You will have access to numerous tools that will allow you to create cool designs that you would be proud of.

However, you must duly note that the desktop one, which is called
“simply CanvasWorkSpace” (the web app is called CanvasWorkSpace), offers more advanced features compared to the could-based one.

If you want to have a more detailed overview of the Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350, then I invite to take a look at this article.


Pros of the Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350

  • The scanner capabilities
  • The quality of the cuts, drawings, and scanning
  • The available choices for the user
  • The nice customer feedbacks
  • The quality of the resources about the CM350
  • The free software

Cons of the Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350

  • CanvasWorkSpace is basic compared to other software such as Photoshop
  • A bit expensive
  • Some user might find difficulties to learn how to use

>>>Check price<<<

All the vinyl cutting machines: summary

Vinyl cutting machineDimensionsCutting areaWeightProduct page
Silhouette Cameo 3

22.5"x 8.5"x6"

12 inches cutting mat (exact cutting area not provided)

6 pounds

Click here
Cricut explore 1
24 x 9.5"x9.5"11.5" x 23.5"13.75 poundsClick here
Silhouette Cameo 2
11"x11"x24"12" x 12" cutting mat (exact cutting area not provided)Around 10 poundsClick here
Cricut explore air 1

25.4"x 10"x9.2"

11.5" x 23.5"

13.8 pounds

Click here
Cricut explore air 2


24"x9.5" x9.5"


11.5" x 23.5"


16 pounds


Click here
Sizzix eclips2

26"x6.5" x7"

12" x 12"

Around 18 pounds

Click here
Silhouette Portrait 2

18"x8" x9"

A cutting area with a mat of 8 x 12 inches

3.53 pounds

Click here
Brother scan and cut 2 CM 350


10.1"x22.8" x10.6"


11.7" x 11.7"


10.36 pounds


Click here

Conclusion

That’s it, our best vinyl cutter under $300 review has come to an end. After reading it, I’m pretty convinced that you got a good idea on the best vinyl cutting machines that are offered at a pretty reasonable cost.

So as you can see, there is a huge set of choice offered here. We have eight different machines, and each one of them offer unique features and functionalities.

If you want to have detailed information on these devices, then take a look at the links provided at the end of each one’s section.

Summary
Review Date
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Vinyl cutting machines under $300
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